Former top-ranked golfer Lorena Ochoa radiates happiness as she moves around the clubhouse at Las Lomas, a private golf club in an upscale part of Mexico City.
She is six months pregnant and expecting a baby boy -- who will be named Pedro -- in early December. She seems content spending more time at home after retiring in 2010 while at the top of the sport.
Her departure left something of a power vacuum on the LPGA Tour, but life is going smoothly for the 29-year-old Ochoa. She says she has no intention of making a comeback.
“I’m not going to return full time, this is a fact,” Ochoa said. “I’d like to play one or two of my favorite tournaments and be on the golf course with people I love.”
Ochoa won 30 tournaments and two majors and was ranked No. 1 from 2007 to 2010 -- a spot she held when she retired at 28. In December 2009, she married Aeromexico executive Andres Conesa, who has three children from a previous marriage.
“I’m very well, very happy and enjoying this stage of my life,” Ochoa said. “It feels nice to have more time at home, to be more normal and not live out of a suitcase. Physically I’m fine, and very excited to be expecting a baby.”
Ochoa said she watches some LPGA events on television and has followed the chase for No. 1 in her absence. Yani Tseng of Taiwan has the spot now, and in the last year it has also been held by Jiyai Shin of South Korea, Cristie Kerr of the United States and Ai Miyazato of Japan.
Others have been in the hunt, too, including Suzann Pettersen of Norway.
“Yes, I watch the tour, but not every Sunday,” Ochoa said. “I’m not glued to it. I know speaking with my friends who are still playing, that it is very important that we have a solid No. 1. This helps the image of golf and makes competition better.”
Tseng seems to have replaced Ochoa as the top name in women’s golf. At only 22, she is the first player -- male or female -- to win five majors by that age.
Ochoa’s absence also has left a gap in women’s golf in Mexico, where the sport has a low profile and struggled to produce top players.
Mexico’s top female player is probably Sophia Sheridan, who is also from Ochoa’s hometown of Guadalajara.
“We have to be patient,” said Ochoa, who played for the University of Arizona before turning pro. “There are very good young players at universities in the United States. But nothing happens overnight.”